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Mercury Players Theatre gets "Blitzed"

The frenetic pace, bursts of genius, big personalities—these are just a few of the factors people mention when describing the craziness of working in theater.

Now, take those elements, whittle the time frame of writing, casting and producing a play down to a mere twenty-four hours, and you’ve got what Mercury Players Theatre calls Blitz.

The company has held the kamikaze theatrical experience annually since 2000. Writers are given a theme, a setting and 8 p.m. util the following morning to come up with a script. Then actors and directors are chosen, rehearsals run all day and the plays are performed that night.

“It was a goofy idea,” says Marcy Weiland, producer of this year’s Blitz X. “It truly is like an entire theater production condensed in twenty-four hours.”

All action takes place within the Bartell Theatre, and despite the inherent drama, the endeavor is fun.

“It’s kind of a love-fest for the theater people themselves,” Weiland says. “You’re all in it together and it’s so scary.”

Two years ago, Mercury Players added a competition for Blitz veterans. Blitz Smackdown is held the day before the traditional Blitz, but involves the same intense time frame. Both events leave participants feeling like anything is possible, says Smackdown producer Bonnie Balke.

“Any production problem can be solved when surrounded by lots of creative, adrenaline-infused theater people,” she says. “Playwrights are insane. They have to be.”

Mercury Players Theatre’s Blitz Smackdown (Round III) and Blitz X take place June 12 and 13, respectively, at the Bartell Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door only. 661-9696 x5, mercuryplayerstheatre.com

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Read her A&E blog Liberal Arts.

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